We woke up our last morning in Boston to a gorgeous sunny day. With a cup of tea set on the nightstand and a handful of the delicious pistachio macaroons from Mikes, we sat on a crisp white duvet and got into Trouble.
The Hilton - and I'll be doing a whole post about their wonderfulness - had a collection of games for guests to borrow. The kids, wanting to take advantage of every single amenity, borrowed Trouble after our soak in the hot tub the night before.
I couldn't remember all the rules and the rule card was hanging out with the missing pieces, but we played our own version, popping the bubble and moving the pegs around the board. It was at that moment it sunk into me how very much I love traveling with my children.
It was 8:00 in the morning and if we'd been traveling with anyone else, the odds are we'd be rushing around the room getting ready for the day. Instead, we sipped tea and water, we ate cookies, and we watched the sun sparkle on the building across the harbor while the pop of a plastic bubble and the rattle of dice sang made background music.
When we finally did venture from our room, it was with the knowledge we'd be spending our last day heading south along the Freedom Trail. We walked into the lobby where the desk clerk called out a cheery good morning and handed us waters while the bell captain held the shuttle for us. We popped on the subway, seasoned City dwellers, and ascended into the busy Quincy Market.
We wandered food stalls until we found one with eggs and bacon and then sat in the shade of a tree while we watched the market wake.
At Faneuil Hall, we joined a tour group just getting ready to head our way. As luck would have it, we were three of five on that tour and our guide was a patient history grad student who had a sense of the ridiculous and a willingness to share the sillier side of his City.
To Joseph's delight, our longest stop was the Granary Burial Ground where we finished our journey with Paul Revere.
With morbid fascination we listened to our guide tell us of the Boston Massacre and how it started, really, with name calling, a wig, and snowballs. My heart raced as he described the scene with an angry mob yelling and pushing against the line of British troops. As at the Minute Man park, both sides of the story were told leaving us with a breathless, rich account of that memorable event and the men and young boy who died.
And then, he leaned back and said, "The British soldiers were tried for murder. Who do you think represented them?"
We stood in silence for a moment and then he answered his own question. "John Adams." He let that soak in for a moment and continued with a description of the trial while we marveled at a patriot, the second President of the United States, who believed in equality under the law so completely he defended British soldiers accused of the murder of Bostonians.
We wandered into the cemetery where history poured over us. It was getting warm in the sun and our guide was regaling his rapt audience with tales of the tombs when Joseph sat down on a stone marker.
"Do you know where you're sitting?" the guide asked.
Joseph started to stand, but the guide gestured him down. "Those large stone blocks are actually doorways to underground crypts." I shivered and looked at Joseph with raised eyebrows. He stared at the sun warmed stone. "And the one you're sitting on belonged to a very famous man. He was one of the judges at the Salem witch trials and sentenced 19 people and one dog to death for witch craft." The guide contemplated the stone box and said, somewhat quietly, "What's more interesting is that Samuel Sewall wrote about abolishing slavery, the rights of women and girls to be educated, and later apologized for his role in the Witch Trials."
"And he's Louisa's grandpa!" Joseph jumped off the box. I grinned. He was off by a couple greats, but he was right. He was Louisa May Alcott's great-great grandfather.
The guide looked at Joseph for a moment, "If I lose my voice, you're leading the tour." Joseph puffed his chest out and I boggled that he'd not only paid attention but retained that trivial detail of our Orchard House tour.
We continued our tour through the canyon of high rises and to a statue of Benjamin Franklin, a half smile on his stone face. Mr. Franklin won my gingers over with one book.
"Did you know," the guide asked, "that Benjamin Franklin published a book called Fart Proudly?"
"He did not!" I protested. I guess he did. My gingers were delighted.
We finished our tour on the Common where we walked across the green grass to the Frog Pond and dipped our feet, talking about all we'd learned.
We put our shoes back on and wandered across the Common. We passed the saucy statue who intrigues me...
And we rode the carousal.
Then, we wandered to the ducks.
The view was picturesque. Perfect. With the sunlight reflecting off the water, my little loves trying to pet a duck, and the people, all the people around us.
I tried to pose the kids, thinking I might get the Perfect Picture.
Joseph smiled his forced grin, the one wreaths his face in self awareness and robs it of the sparkle that is pure Joe. "Please, Joseph. Smile for me."
"No, baby. Your real smile."
"This is my real smile."
"No. The one you smile when you hear a joke."
"I like this smile."
"Excuse me. Do your kids want to feed the ducks." I looked up and saw a young girl with a large loaf of bread, split in half. She was holding it out to me.
I looked around. This beautiful site was filled with people. A couple stood nearby in the shade of a tree, kissing with their arms around each other. A large family to the other side threw chunks of bread into the water, their children laughing and giggling at the antics of the ducks. Behind us, little ones rolled in the grass while their mothers sat in the sun, sunglassed faces turned up.
And I was scolding my son for not smiling properly.
Chastened, I accepted the bread and the reminder.
It doesn't matter what smile he smiles.
We tossed the bread into the water and watched as the ducks fought and splashed over it. Flocks floated by and I looked at my little loves and remembered to enjoy this moment, this second in the sun.
I took a deep breath and smiled my real smile. "Who wants to ride the Swan Boats?"